On Saturday night, the Loose Cobra in Tolono hosted a sold-out show featuring three bands with similar styles, yet different geographical origins. The co-headliners were Chicago math rock stalwarts Their / They’re / There and Philadelphia band Sweet Pill, and Urbana’s own Snack’d Out opened. I was only able to catch the sets for Snack’d Out and Their / They’re / There, and was not disappointed.
Right on time, the night began with Snack’d Out, from Urbana, who lay claim to the genre “slippercore” according to their Bandcamp page. As a first-time visitor to the Loose Cobra, I was surprised, but intrigued, by the intimate atmosphere of the venue. The size of the stage is four dart lanes wide, and exactly seven feet and nine and a quarter inches deep, judging by the fact that the monitors for the band were placed just inside the official dart-throwing line on the floor.
Despite the limited space, the energy in the room was palpable and it was clear that everyone had high expectations for the sold-out show.
Snack’d Out took the stage first, thanked the Loose Cobra and commented on how much they appreciated the opportunity as well as looked forward to the two headliners as much as the crowd did. They immediately grabbed everyone’s attention with Blink-182-like punk rock chords and emo sentiment in their lyrics. The alternating vocals between the bassist (Juli Sherry) and guitarist (Kris Ward) added to the high-energy opening song, “I never lost my temper. But I lost my mind.” The lyrics may be emo, but the music dictated a high energy level for the crowd.
As the show continued, the venue became more crowded and very soon there was no room for stragglers. Snack’d Out didn’t let the packed room intimidate them and instead, they fed off the energy of the crowd.
The third song was a snarling punk song about Magic the Gathering, which was emphasized by the lead singer’s jacket featuring a large MTG logo on the back. The vocals in this song reminded me of New Found Glory’s brand of punk-pop singing. Drummer Doug Hodge beat Sweet Pill’s drum kit as in time to the up-tempo songs.
Between songs, they let the audience know they had 7” singles available for sale, and in bigger news informed the now-eager crowd that they were beginning recording of an album next week. The guitarist also took a moment to thank the headliners, and mention that Their / They’re / There singer Evan Weiss was a huge inspiration to him and the band’s music.
During the set, vocalist/guitarist Kris Ward added intricate and distinct riffs between the punk chord progressions, and their use of breakdowns in a few of their songs showed a prowess to change tempo as the mood suited them. The sixth, and last, song of the night was, by the singers’ account, “The worst song we ever wrote.” Despite this, the crowd collectively bobbed their heads to the driving rhythm of the short, energetic tune.
Snacked Out delivered a memorable performance that left us eagerly anticipating their next show. Seeing as drummer Hodge is soon opening his own venue, The Space in Downtown Champaign, we probably won’t have to wait long.
Next up was Their / They’re / There, the Chicago-based math rock band, who took to the stage next as a co-headliner and delivered an exceptional performance. From the opening song, it was clear the crowd was there to see their heroes. The band’s warm-up joke about the venue feeling like their practice space with better beer and more people set the tone for the evening.
The first song of the night, “Therapy,” was a perfect representation of their sound, with guitar riffing and atonal harmonics from Matt Frank, the guitarist. The enthusiastic crowd responded with great energy, a response that continued throughout the entire set. The next song, “Concession Speech Writer,” featured intricate rhythms and unique syncopation, which the audience eagerly devoured. Lead singer Evan Weiss’s revelation about playing darts earlier in the day, exactly where they were standing, followed by his loss to his guitarist, added a personal touch to the show.
Their third song, “New Blood,” showcased a slow breakdown, kept in time precisely by drummer Jared Kurns, followed by a heavier second half with distorted bass from Weiss and frantic guitar frills. The song’s energy was palpable, and one would have expected a mosh pit to break out at any moment. However, the crowd remained restrained but visibly engaged. The band also played a new song, which featured an interesting chord progression and more atonal riffs from Frank on guitar, a staple of math rock bands.
The band’s energy remained high throughout the entire set, and their connection with the audience was evident. The lead singer’s humorous anecdotes and stories about their experience in Champaign, along with the audience’s positive response, made for an engaging show. A great example of their connection with the audience was “The Ultimate Ideas,” a song about doing acid in the woods with friends, and the crowd’s laughter and agreement demonstrated the room was full of kindred spirits.
Overall, Their / They’re / There delivered an outstanding performance, and the audience’s enthusiastic response was well-deserved. Their unique blend of math rock, intricate rhythms, and atonal harmonics left a lasting impression on the audience, and their infectious energy made for an unforgettable night.